Protests are continuing in the Palestinian Authority (PA) area of the West Bank after PA police killed Nizar Banat.
The PA is able to govern in a limited way — in practice, mostly to administer international aid money and pay police forces — in an area comprising some 165 separate patches of the West Bank, surrounded by Israeli control.
Banat, an ex-member of Fatah, the party dominant in the PA, had criticised the PA for corruption and its cancellation yet again of Palestinian elections. PA police invaded the house in Hebron where Banat was staying and seized him. He died soon after. The PA has given no reason for the arrests and says it will do an inquiry. The Palestine People’s Party (formerly Communist Party) has resigned its PA position in protest.
Demonstrators have called for the resignation of 86-year-old PA chief Mahmoud Abbas. They have faced violence from PA police, and counter-demonstrations obviously fomented by the police and Fatah.
According to Amira Hass in Haaretz: “Most of the protesters were affiliated with left-wing organisations — current or past members or supporters... If there were Hamas or Islamic Jihad supporters there, they were not recognised or obvious. Someone shouted ‘Allahu akbar’, but no one joined the call. ‘This is a persuasive sign that the majority [of the protesters] are from the left’, someone remarked”.
Hamas (although it is even more repressive in Gaza than the PA is in the West Bank) has gained popularity in the West Bank after it was seen to “do something” against Israel in the May war. Outcomes opening the way to democracy, peace, and social advance are possible, however, only by winning the right of the Palestinians to a real independent state of their own alongside Israel.